The Stakes are High in 2024

February 16, 2024

None of us can afford to sit this election out.

The Stakes are High in 2024 we’re constantly bombarded with scare stories about rising crime, immigrants overwhelming our public services, and horrifying conflicts abroad, it is tempting to duck and cover. Who wants to pay attention to the news when it's all bad?

We may know that unemployment has reached historic lows, the violent crime rate is going down nationally, and we’ve been able to negotiate substantial wage increases in many of our shops from Upstate New York all the way down to Florida. Any politician will tell you, though: “When you’re explaining, you’re losing.”

The fact is, things just don’t FEEL good for many of us. We may have lost loved ones during the pandemic and suffered personal trauma in our workplaces. The price increases driven by global events and corporate greed have hit our pockets. It takes a lot of time to bounce back.

We’ve all heard the adage that “slow and steady wins the race.” Delivering visible and concrete change to the lives of working people takes time. We know this from our battles with management. Negotiating with the bosses is hard work and contracts are rarely settled quickly.

On the national stage, the representatives who we elect to champion our best interests face the same problem. The Biden administration worked hard to pass a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill more than two years ago. We know this will kick start much-needed public transportation projects from New York to Florida that will make a big difference to our daily commutes. It will ensure that our communities finally have the resources to address the results of environmental racism—from polluting highways to lead pipes. But building new subway lines, rebuilding communities and ordering new busses will not happen overnight.

On the other hand, decision time for our country is coming up sooner than we think. Polls show that many working people are unenthusiastic about their choices in November. So there is a real temptation to just sit it out, when the nation goes to the polls again in November of this year.

Let’s be real, though. As Union members, we know that we never win any improvements for ourselves and our families by sitting on the sidelines. In 1963, more than a quarter of a million people marched on Washington D.C. to demand an end to state-sanctioned segregation. The organizing drive for the march and the attempts to derail it are dramatically displayed in a powerful new Netflix movie. <See Rustin: A historical movie for our times. p.4>

More than sixty years later, in many ways the battle lines have not changed that much. Superficially, it may seem that the choice in the upcoming election is between two old white men. But what they have delivered and would deliver for working people is completely different. <See Biden v Trump: When it comes to working people there is no comparison. p.3>

Our decision is clear. We can stick with the Biden administration and its slow and steady path to change that is already beginning to deliver real gains or watch helplessly from the sidelines as extremist Republicans dismantle the Medicaid and Medicare programs on which many of our jobs depend. We can support a President who believes in our labor movement and will help us advance, or we can allow those who want to roll back the clock on all of our rights to take power.